Each month, the U.S. Travel Association sends its members the U.S. Travel Outlook, which provides insight into the current state of the economy and related industry trends, plus other relevant data from the travel and tourism sector.
Here are some of September 2019’s most compelling findings from the U.S. Travel research team.
Summer blues? Not in the Skies
It was a record-breaking summer for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency screened more than 262 million passengers over this year’s summer travel season—up 3.4% from last year. Nine out of 10 of the TSA’s busiest days in its history occurred this summer.
Notably, wait times remained manageable throughout the summer, with 99.7% of passengers waiting less than 30 minutes to get through standard security lines, and 98.9% of TSA PreCheck passengers waiting less than 10 minutes. TSA prepared for the busy season by adding 2,000 security checkpoint staff in airports across the country.
Americans Shopped ‘Til They Dropped
While economists predict a recession is on the horizon, American consumers continue to spend enthusiastically. In July, personal consumption increased by 0.6% month-over-month to $93.1 billion. Americans’ strong July spending was no outlier: six of the first seven months of 2019 experienced consumer spending growth.
“Even with elevated policy uncertainty and financial market turbulence, the U.S. consumer continues to display great vitality, emboldened by a large savings buffer,” said Lydia Boussour, senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.
However, it is unlikely that the trend of consumer spending will persist. The savings buffer did not continue through July, as disposable income increased by a sluggish 0.3% month-over-month, meaning the personal savings rate fell half of a percentage point to 8% of disposable income.
International Visitation Suffers Slowdown
International inbound travel slipped 1.7% through June, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. This has been part of a larger trend, in which international inbound travel decreased in five out of the first six months of 2019.
A notable decline in visitations from Canada and Mexico helped drive the overall trend. Canadian visitation declined 2.7% in the first half of the year while Mexican visitation tumbled 7.4%. Overseas visitation, however, was positive with 1.6% growth.
Policy changes such as the long-term reauthorization of Brand USA, expanding the Visa Waiver Program to include more qualified countries and improving Customs wait times can help reverse the slide in international inbound visitation.
A deeper dive into the data and insights available in the September 2019 U.S. Travel Outlook—which includes the latest data on employment, transportation, inflation, consumer confidence and more—is online here.
U.S. Travel Association members receive the full U.S. Travel Outlook, plus a myriad of other cutting-edge data and insights relevant to the travel industry. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a member here—or simply continue to enjoy a small taste of U.S. Travel’s research insight each month here, with the Research Round Up.